Category Archives: Green Living

Planned Obsolescence Part II: The Fight Begins

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Planned Obsolescence: a policy of planning or designing a product with an artificially limited useful life, so it will become obsolete, that is, unfashionable or no longer functional after a certain period of time. The rationale behind the strategy is to generate long-term sales volume by reducing the time between repeat purchases.

I welcome you to check out Part I of this series here.

So why am I bringing this up again you ask?  Isn’t this just a part of modern living we have to accept?  I say NO!  And so does France!  Check out this Washington Post article.

Essentially, France will fine companies that fail to post the life expectancy of their product.  And they’re planning to require companies to replace broken parts for the first two years!

Moving to France is definitely on my ‘To Do’ list.

 

What do you think?  Would this sort of thing be possible in other parts of the world?  Are there other ways to fight big businesses on this without strong government action?

Pillow Talk

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Hey! Valentine’s Day is in a week, so I thought I’d share a little craft I threw together for Valentine’s Day last year.

It’s actually the first pillow I’ve ever made and boy, was it easier than I thought!  I didn’t do anything tricky, and I got to use my scrap fabric that I keep around for this sort of thing.  I just cut out some simple bird and leaf shapes and sewed them on by hand.

My favorite part about this little pillow is the pocket in the front.  I know it’s a little cheesy, but the purpose of the pocket is to act as a little delivery service for random love notes.  I’ll admit that this is something we’re not very good at in our marriage, but the Love Bird pillow has been on our bed for a year now and we’ve written way more notes to each other than we ever have before.

You’ll notice that the pillow is a little lumpy.  That’s because instead of stuffing it or covering up another pillow, I put a zipper on one side of the cover and I use it to store two extra blankets (they’re cuddly but not very attractive).

Happy Valentine’s Day!

Busy Getting Healthy

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One of the newbies. So sweet! Photography by yours truly.

I guess you’ve probably noticed that it’s been awhile since any of us posted.  Well, we’ve all been pretty busy these last couple of months.  The biggest news is the arrival of three new babies!  Congrats to my three sisters!  Babies and mothers are doing well.

I myself have been working on a website for my photography and getting a real business going.  More on that later.

What I really wanted to talk about today was my little family’s very recent and earth shattering goal to GET HEALTHY.   I really don’t want to call it a “diet” because there’s a lot of connotations associated with that word.  Let’s call it a lifestyle change.  It all started 4 or 5 months ago when my husband decided to write an argumentative research paper for English class about health in the U.S.  It started out being about the obesity epidemic and it turned into an expose of the entire food industry and the government’s involvement.  Wow.  Needless to say, we both got pretty passionate about the whole thing.  So then I found this book called The Blood Sugar Solution.

Now, for the past few years I’ve been getting more and more concerned about the health of my growing family.  And what with all the corruption and marketing targeting my children, I really wanted to be able to make smart decisions in the grocery store and keep the really bad stuff out of my house.  But I’ve always been a big believer in “moderation” and the older I’ve gotten, the less inclined I am to be an “extremist”.  So I just did the basic things.  We cut way down on soda- we maybe bought it once a month.  I only bought the whole wheat bread and tortillas and our breakfast cereal had to have at least 3 grams of fiber and contain whole grains (unless there was a sale on Captain Crunch- Yum!)  We had salads daily (complete with ranch) and we cut back on our ice cream and candy intake- but we did splurge regularly.  I also had a habit of keeping processed food around for those 3 or 4 nights a week when I just didn’t feel like cooking.  And we ate a lot of sandwiches.

Sounds pretty normal, right?  It’s not like we ate fast food all the time.  In fact, we avoided it like the plague.  So why did I feel like a skinny fat person with constant sugar cravings and why was my husband 80 lbs overweight?  He also had symptoms that pointed to a possible food sensitivity and inflammation and a family history of dementia and diabetes. I knew I had to do something more and I didn’t want to wait around until my husband was diagnosed with pre-diabetes or worse, hit with a heart attack!  And so I got this book from the library on CD so my husband and I could listen to it together because I knew nothing would happen unless we were completely united.

The first half of the book described exactly what we had found when my husband wrote his research paper- why heart disease is the leading cause of death and why there is a growing plague of type 2 diabetes.  The 2nd half of the book describes basic health needs and nutrition and includes quizzes to help you determine areas in which you may have problems.  The back of the book has recipes and meal planning for two weeks.  That was really what made the entire process realistic to me.

The thing I love about Blood Sugar Solution is that it just makes sense.  It’s almost intuitive.  It’s also very personal.  There are no gimmicks, no special weight loss pills or shakes, no severe calorie cutting- no calorie counting at all, in fact.  It’s all about eating whole, real foods, moderate exercise, and relaxation.  A good multivitamin is recommended but that’s nothing unusual these days.  The healthy eating at first seemed strict and restrictive, but since we made the change we’re eating a greater variety of delicious food than we ever have before!  It’s a pretty simple program to follow when you’re really committed.  We quit eating all processed food.  If it had more than four ingredients or any latin named compounds, we threw it out.  We stopped eating sweet things.  High fructose corn syrup especially, but also sugar and any type of sweetener.  The idea is to break the “sweets” addiction (it really was an addiction for me).  The exception to this was a square of 70% dark chocolate a day and the occasional serving of honey.  We also stopped eating red meat- beef and pork mainly.  We also cut out dairy and gluten for 6 weeks to see if we had sensitivities to either of them. We also avoid flour of any kind- it is quickly absorbed and can drive up your blood sugar.

So what do we eat, you may ask?  Vegetables and fruit– we do avoid citrus and potatoes but everything else is fair game!  Beans beans beans!  I love beans.  Meat! Chicken, wild caught fish, turkey, lamb.  Rice! Brown, wild, or black.  Nuts! Lots of nuts and seeds. With fruit.  Whole grains– quinoa, millet, flax….  And lots of spices and seasonings– basil, parsley, oregano, olive oil, vinegars, sea salt, etc.

The results?  We feel great!  Our digestive systems have never worked so well! We have more consistent energy and we sleep more soundly.  and my husband’s dry, ichy skin on his hands has virtually disappeared!  We eat until we are full and carb and sugar cravings have no power over us!  Oh, and did I mention our clothes don’t fit anymore? I lost 10 lbs and my husband lost 30 lbs.  It’s nice to know that our weight loss is sustainable and healthy and that it won’t just skyrocket back up because we’ve made the change and we’re sticking to it.

Sorry this post is so long- if you made it to the end, congratulations!

Future posts: Photography, Weight loss- before and after, healthy recipes, and my latest craftiness

How is your family being healthy?  I’d love to swap recipes if anyone has some healthy favorites!

Dress to Skirt Refashion

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I swear I took some ‘before’ pictures, but I can’t find them anywhere… no worries.  This is the simplest refashion ever so the after pics should be enough.

The dress I used was someone’s old bridesmaid dress made from stiff, shiny polyester with lace overlay (I love the lace).  The bottom half has a flattering almost pencil skirt shape, but the top was just formal and dated.  So all I did was cut the top off- about two inches above the narrowest part of dress.  I sewed a half inch seam around the top and voila!  New skirt!  It sits nice and high and looks great with a belt.

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And here’s my sweet baby.  We’re so glad it’s warmed up!

Homemade Gifts Part 2

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I know Christmas is over, but I thought I’d share some of the other gifts I made this year anyway.

T-shirt scarves are big right now.  Just google them and you’ll find tons of different styles and tutorials.  I took a couple of ideas and made my own.  I wish I had made the strands a bit thicker for a chunkier look.  Oh well.  it’s a fabulous way to upcycle those old t-shirts we all have!

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Here’s a little idea inspired by a similar game I saw in a magazine.  I just washed out used cans and covered the outside in scrapbook paper.  Wood craft sticks have Charades ideas written on both sides- the red side has adult phrases and the green side has kid phrases.  On this particular set I put Bible phrases on the bottom of the sticks.  The idea can is only to be used when you need help coming up with your own words and I put a wide variety of topics on the sticks (movies, books, animals, famous people, places, proverbs etc.) to help keep the ideas flowing.

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Happy New Year’s everybody!  Upcoming posts: New Year’s Resolutions and the homemade kid’s kitchen

Homemade Gifts

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Merry Christmas everybody!  It’s just a few days away….

My family has a little tradition that we’ve been doing for decades and is one of my favorites.  We draw names each year and make presents for each other.  When we were little, the gifts had to be homemade and so we either got to choose to work with our dad out in his wood shop or sew something under the direction of mom.  That rule is more lenient these days, but many of us still end up making things from scratch most of the time.

Here are a few quick and simple personalized gift ideas that I used this year!  (hopefully my niece and nephews don’t read the blog!)

I borrowed this idea from here. Gwen really wanted to help make things and this was the perfect project for her.  And I got a great deal on the shirts!  Sorry I don’t have pics of the finished products.  They turned out pretty cool!

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This next one is also from I am Momma Hear Me Roar.  I love her stuff!  I used some fabric paint on a stamp to liven up some of the more boring fabricsDSC_0026_12

…and here’s what I came up with!  My sewing leaves something to be desired. I just hope it fits. 🙂

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I have a few more projects to finish, so part 2 will be posted soon!  Happy Holidays!

Airplane Birthday Party

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Our oldest turned three a few weeks ago.  Crazy!  Here are a few pics from the party.

We found these Styrofoam planes at the dollar store for the kids to put together, decorate, and fly in the backyard.

My mom made yummy cupcakes!

The kids also made planes using pushup pops as the body and sticks of gum for the wings.  I don’t have a picture of one, though.

The three-year-old got a lot of fun things- including this scooter,  a pilot hat made from upcycled t-shirts, and a jacket that I embellished. I got the hat pattern from I Am Momma Hear Me Roar

The jacket is a jeans jacket we found at the thrift store that I embellished with iron-ons from a craft store.

A few days after the party we went to an Air Force Museum near where we live.  The three year old loved it.

Next festivity- Halloween!  Anybody got any great costume or party ideas?

Desk Make Over!

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Good news!  My garden is starting to sprout!  That’s not what I’m blogging about today, but I had to share with someone.

Today’s blog features my latest project.  While we were packing up our house and moving all our stuff I decided that I needed a new storage and space solution for my crafty supplies.  In our old apartment, they basically resided in a set of plastic drawers and several cardboard boxes in the back of the closet.  My mother-in-law was kind enough to support my cause and donated an old roll top desk she had in storage.  The desk was in fairly good condition- just a little wobbly and the finish was not very attractive.  We got it moved without it falling apart and I finally got to work on it.
One side of the desk top had broken off from the base so we glued and nailed it back together.  Wobbly problem solved.

We sanded the rough spots on the desk, but not enough to take off all the old finish. We stained it with the darkest shade of stain we could find. Maybe I didn’t rub off enough of the stain but I like how dark it turned out.  I then put on two coats of polyurethane and let it cure for two days. Done.

I was all set to buy new hardware, but the style I liked was expensive so we bought some metallic silver spray paint that really updated the look of the old hardware.

I felt like it needed something else and I’ve been wanting to try this lace finish out.  I just taped newspaper around the panel I wanted to paint and taped some cheap lace over the panel.  Some people use a temporary spray adhesive to attach the lace to the surface but I didn’t have any on hand and I didn’t want to make yet another trip to the store.  My method seemed to work fine.  I used the silver spray paint I bought for the hardware to spray the lace pattern on the side.

I think next time I do the lace thing, I’ll get a lace with a bigger design.  Other than that, I’m quite pleased with the outcome.  Now all I have to do is child-proof the drawers and we’ll be in business!

My First Real Garden

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Ahhhh….. springtime!  The temperatures are rising, the birds are singing, the flowers are blooming….. Whoops!  Hope it’s not to late to plant!

This was my exact thought process not two weeks ago.  It’s been so unusually warm this spring I probably could have planted a month ago.  But we just moved and even though there’s a nice spot of ground in the backyard for planting (hooray!) unpacking and organizing the house has taken precedence.  We finally got around to planting last weekend.   Neither my husband or I have ever planted a garden by ourselves.  Turns out it’s a lot easier when someone just tells you what to plant and how than trying to decide and figure it all out by yourself. 

We ended up buying tomato and herb starts because obviously we’d missed the tomato planting window and, well, my track record with herbs isn’t too impressive.  I expect the herb starts will do much better than my seedlings last year since they are well established and planted in the garden instead of pots.

We also planted several rows of corn, peppers, spinach, lettuce, cucumbers, watermelon, zucchini, and assorted squash.  I hope something grows.  I’ll keep you posted. 

The Fabulous Wonderful Awesome Book Sling!

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I love slings!

I love this kind,

And this kind

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And even this kind

Ok, not really.  But one kind of sling I’ve been wanting ever since I knew it exsited is this kind of sling.

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One for your books!  I would post some pictures of mine, but our digital camera batteries are dead.  So sometime in the near future I’ll add them in.   I found a tutorial at Penny Carnival, pulled out some old fabric  and whipped them up yesterday. 

Perhaps saying whipped it up is misleading.  That sounds like it was fast to make them, when it actually took me alot longer than I thought.  So I have a tip for you which is probably obvious to most of you  but I was not blessed with foresight this particular time.  Tip:  Get your hardware first.  Go get the dowels and brackets first and then sew the slings.  I got them after and had to unpick unpick unpick (I HATE doing that) and resew because they were the wrong length and the caseing was too small.  OOPS!  But mistakes are for learning, right?  So now I know and you know. 

I also learned something else.  I can’t do crafts anymore.  I actually learned this lesson once before, (see Here) but I guess it didn’t sink in.  It was like the straw that broke the camels back yesterday.  I was busy and the kids needed me so I got grumpy and they got grumpy and the house was dirty and my hubby scraped together some dinner and it was taking so long I couldn’t do anything else.  So.  I guess I’ll just do crafts after the kids go to bed, or better yet, I’ll just wait till they all are in school and then I’ll craft ALL DAY (yea right!) :).  Sounds good to me!